“The cafe is not your child’s playground” – this is the tweet from Clementine Ford that caught our attention earlier this month. Mine particularly since I am acutely sensitive to children’s screaming in public places (actually at home as well) . But also because I have a noise-maker myself. I like to call him Ethan, because he’s my son and that’s his name.
And then there was this response to Clementine’s tweet from Samantha Maiden who wrote “can you cut out and keep for when you have kids? Will make you laugh. Can’t really pick and choose when toddler loses it.”
Before I had Ethan I used to look at kids “behaving badly” in public with abject horror, and when I say behaving badly I mean making a noise. I didn’t get it. When I saw them crying in public I felt sad for them and wondered why their parents weren’t comforting them. When
I saw them being loud and rambunctious I felt sorry for myself that I had to listen to the noise.
Now I’m not saying that I am perfect, far from it, and I don’t mean to imply that I know more than any other person who doesn’t have a child but I am saying that the way I look at these things has changed. I now understand where it’s coming from and I often feel deep empathy with the mother .
I know that it’s bloody hard to have kids that aren’t robots. Some times they act, well they act like kids and this means they cry, they shout, they laugh very loudly and they often react to the world with great (loud) wonder. They also talk. A lot – well at least Ethan does.
Does this mean that he should stay at home all the time?
Of course I am going to try my best to teach him right from wrong, and instill in him manners that dictate there are certain times when he should be seen rather than heard. I’ve used the words “inside voice” and “this is not the playground” more times than I’d care to admit but sometimes, just because this is the world he’s growing up in and he has a right to be part of it, I allow him to be himself. Even in public.
Seems though that there are a couple of places I wont be taking him to. Like this one. where you have to pay the equivalent of corkage for your kids. The Huffington Post reports:
When 34-year-old mother Natasha Young got her check at Cosmo Restaurant in South London’s Croydon, she noticed an extra £3 (around $5) on the bill. She asked about it, and was informed the fee was for bringing her 6-week-old son along, the London Evening Standard reported.
Ana Sheridan, 28, also got charged when she brought her 6-month-old daughter to Cosmo’s. Her baby, Sheridan says, wasn’t even taking up room in a highchair; she was sitting on her parents’ laps and being breastfed.
The subsequent uproar and media attention prompted a formal apology from Cosmo Restaurants (Croydon is only one of their 12 locations), which can be found on their website.
Then there’s this from the US, where one restaurant has banned children altogether. From MSNBC in the US:
Beginning Saturday, children 6 and under are no longer welcome at the restaurant in Monroeville, Pa., just outside of Pittsburgh. [McDains] They’ve just become too much of a bother for the other customers.
“Parents have gradually diminished their cooperation,” he said, adding that the new policy is strictly in response to customer complaints.
What do you think? Should restaurants be able to charge parents to take their kids to restaurants? Should they be able to ban children altogether?